How To Stop the Cycle of Negative Relationships



– Hi, I'm Dr. Tracey Marks, and I make mental health education videos. Today I'm talking about
why you can get stuck repeating the same negative relationship despite your best efforts
or best intentions to find another person to be with. This is based on a viewer
question from Miss B. And here's an excerpt of her question. Great video. I was raised by two parents
who were narcissists, and my mother pushed me
away when I wanted hugs. My father did unspeakable stuff, and I believe was also borderline. My question is if you
were raised by people with these disorders is it
normal to attract people like this and feel like you can save them? Thanks for the question Miss B. The short answer is yes, you
can be attracted to same people with whom you had a very
hurtful relationship. It's not always obvious, though, when you're attracted to similar people. Let me explain. There's a concept in psychoanalytic theory called the corrective
emotional experience. The classical definition of the corrective emotional
experience is that it's a therapeutic process
where a therapist helps you experience what was previously
a painful relationship by making it a healing relationship. The therapist does this by
reenacting certain dynamics with you and then reacts
to you in a different way that's positive and different
from what you expect. And when you continue
to get these, kind of, positive responses, which is the opposite of what you're used to, you begin to heal by having the experience in real time that corrects what happened in the past. That's the classic way
the concept was defined and used by therapists who
practice psychoanalytic therapy. But there's been an evolution in how the term is conceptualized. It can be thought of more
broadly as an explanation for why you seem to be
attracted to the same kind of negative relationship, and this can even bleed
into your close friendships. The term comes from
object-relations theory which is where people are called objects. And it's about how you
relate to central objects in your life like your mother. The idea of the corrective
emotional experience can refer to the process of a person
seeking a negative object or relationship, for the
purpose of reenacting that negative dynamic
in a way that allows you to correct the original
negative experience. I know that's a lot so let
me give you an example. I'm gonna give you two
examples, one man and one woman. Let's say you're a man who
had a very critical mother. You loved your mother, but she rarely praised
you or validated you. And no matter what you did,
it was never good enough. When you have this kind
of early experience, you can internalize that and believe that you aren't good enough. You see, as a child it
started as the things you do aren't good enough. But over time, it evolved
into you aren't good enough. The usual trajectory
would be for you to spend your entire adulthood
searching for the validation that you never got. So you end up with close friendships and romantic relationships
that have a similar dynamic. And this is unless something comes along to change that trajectory like therapy or some other form of enlightenment. You may have a good friend who
helps you see this pattern. So in a dating relationship,
you may seek out women who nag you or criticize you. A more subtle form of seeking
the non-validating woman is being attracted to
the super strong woman who may not overtly criticize
you, but her competence and her accomplishments
alone emasculate you. So initially you admire her,
but then you come to resent her because she doesn't make
you feel good enough. So you have a lot of fights and
you may even have an affair. Then you get divorced or you
break up if you're not married and then you try and find another woman. And you say I'm not gonna
date anymore lawyers because that's the problem. Women with high-powered
careers just don't know how to appreciate a man. So you start dating a woman who you think has a lower social position than you, but then she's always
wanting you to do more and more for her, and she
never seems to be satisfied. And once again, you're not enough. So you did it again. You ended up with another
woman who invalidates you. You thought you were getting
someone different this time because you were looking
at the external things. But it was the same woman, just
wearing different clothing. The problem is you're attracted
to the invalidating woman because of your early
emotional experience. And this is how you can get caught up in this cycle of repeating
this negative dynamic because on an unconscious level, you're seeking the negative
object so you can master the relationship this time around. This time, you are going
to be good enough for her. You're going to make her appreciate you. What can you do about this? The real solution is to see a therapist. And this is not gonna be
a quick process though. The therapist has to understand
you and your back story to help you recognize the
pattern that you're repeating. Then the therapist can
help you change the course and break the pattern. Now if you recognize
the pattern on your own, you could try and find someone opposite. But it's not as easy as it seems, though, because chances are you're
not going to be attracted to the positive object. In this case you're drawn to the person for the wrong reasons but you're
drawn to them nonetheless. Here's another example
using a woman this time. Suppose you're a woman
who keeps being attracted to the man with swagger who
doesn't seem to appreciate you. He gives you his attention at first, but as the relationship progresses, he starts disappearing and
you stop hearing from him on a regular basis. And just around the time
you start to get frustrated, he comes swaggering back
and pulls you back in. In the end, it doesn't work out
because he strings you along while he's dating other people. He never wants to be
exclusive, and you realize that you always end up
with these kind of men. Now you may recognize
this pattern and decide that you're gonna go for
the nice guy this time. But as soon as that man fawns all over you and calls you his queen, you're turned off because you think he's boring and weak. You know he's a good man, but
it's hard to fake attraction. So that's why superficially
just trying to make yourself be attracted to someone
you're not attracted to isn't the complete answer. It's a start, but the real answer requires some soul-searching
and looking at the past to see what it is that
you're really attracted to. Then you wanna learn to
appreciate the opposite of what you're drawn to. Once you see this pattern,
you have to look at what is it about you that
makes you get caught up in this pattern? What do you fear about the situation? Looking at what you fear may help you recognize what's going on. To illustrate this, lets go
back to the woman example. On the surface she says
she finds nice men boring. But when she really looks
at what it is she likes about the charismatic man,
she realizes those men know how to handle her strong personality. When she looks at her dad,
she sees that he was a nice, but he was a passive man,
and she always felt like she had to tiptoe around his feelings because he would ignore her when she was being too assertive. So in essence, she felt rejected by him just for being herself. She feared his rejection
and would hold back on expressing herself so that she could get the
attention she needed from him. So fast forward as an adult, she stays away from the nice
man because she's really afraid she'll push him away with her personality. Now this is deep stuff and
you really need a therapist to see these kinds of things in yourself. But in the absence of seeing a therapist, you could still try and
peel back the layers of your pattern. You start with examining
the negative relationships and asking yourself the
following questions. And I'll have these
questions in the description. And they're just conversation starters. A conversation that you
would have with yourself or a close friend who really knows you. So start with your current
repetitive relationships. In these relationships
what does the person do that makes you feel bad about yourself? It could be what they don't do, like she never complements you. Then look at your
relationship with your parents or your close caretaker. Which parent had the
stronger impact on you? And who were you closest to? Which one who did you have the bad relationship with and why? If it was both, like it was
with Miss B in her question, which was worse? As important as it is to
have a nurturing relationship with your parents, the
negative relationship is the one that's going to
be the squeaky wheel here. That's where you wanna go
deep and see how that parent made you feel and what
you did in response to it. So one more example to
illustrate what I mean by this, and this is more subtle. Suppose you were a child
who had an absent parent either because of divorce or
because your parent worked all the time and just
wasn't around very much. If it's an opposite sex
parent, you may be attracted to a person who's aloof or
emotionally unavailable. So in this case the absent
parent wasn't necessarily mean or abusive, the emotional
damage in your case comes from the absence of validation and the love that you
needed from that parent. You didn't get it because they
weren't around to give it. These are just some things
to prompt you to think about your pattern and
what's at the root of it. I can't emphasize enough,
though, how you really need a therapist who can help you
uncover some of these things and to help you get unstuck
from the negative cycle. If you didn't already
see my video on signs of a toxic relationship,
you can watch it right here. See you next time.

Michael Martin

43 Responses

  1. Hi Dr.Marks! I’ve been watching your videos recently and I find them extremely educational and helpful, i was wondering if you could do a video on dreams/nightmares with bipolar disorder? I was recently diagnosed with rapid-cycling bipolar 2 and have only had bad experiences with ‘dreams’ where I feel detached from reality and i remember all of them. Any insight would be helpful! Thank you!

  2. Hello! Love your video and this channel! Is it possible to do a video about autism in women? Im in a relationship with a girl who is on the spectrum and who was recently diagnosed. Its very hard to find information about autism in women and how it affects their romantic relationship. Its hard for her to explain this to me , because she just got diagnosed and there is not much information about it. It would really help to know a bit more on the subject and how it affect women (or people who were raise as female) differently from Men . Id like to be more aware of her condition so I can be more present and so I can know when she is just not aware of her action and give her ''some slack'' so she can work it out with her psychiatrist and when its just not ok, and we need to sit down and have a conversation. Thanks a lot and good luck for the continuation of this channel!

  3. Why is it if I say that black women are not dateable due to a bad attitude. Why do most women get offended? If someone say all black men sell crack , that doesn't phase me one bit because I don't sell crack I sell ( METH)

  4. You have no idea how much I needed to see this. Thank you so much. Now it's time to peel to the root of the problem.

  5. I feel like I'm always thinking of some sort of rebellious strategy to have a relationship. If I just be my relax self and tell a woman that I hate drama she's turned off. But time I start to play this role of an uncaring asshole black women can't get enough of it.Drama is a drug for women. I ask a girl to smoke some weed with me just to see her reaction , this girl eyes lit up like a Xmas tree. Mind you this woman is a professional. I've learned that it's not the ghetto girls who like drama it's these women that have lots of education and money. I promise you.

  6. both my boyfriend and myself are both bipolar type 1, but i have severe anxiety and depressive disorder. i am so thankful i met him as he is amazing and understands we both have challenges we need to overcome. i always thought when i was diagnosed that i would probably never date someone with the same issues but its proven me wrong.

  7. Dr. Tracey I would love to know how we go in to psychosis in the sense of how is it that we see thing and hear things what goes on in the brain physically? I thought it had to do with serotonin but I was wrong. I would love to understand more of who I am me being manic/psychotic is a huge part of my life it’s an experience only a few of ya experiences please help me understand more of it.
    I don’t feel comfortable enough asking my psychiatrist.

  8. Dr Marks,
    Hi group in a abusive household physically and mentally my parents got divorced in 1989 I was only 10 and I was living in Florida with my grandparents. Neither one of my parents mother nor father gave me any compliments or admiration . Now married my wife also had a abusive father only who is a alcoholic and chronic cigarette smoker nor did she get any compliments or admiration. I’m pretty narcissistic so my self-esteem is not very low but my wife’s is extremely low. It is difficult to grow up now being a parent of a two-year-old and a four-year-old girls trying to be a positive role model is extremely important and very difficult to continue. I’m definitely a pessimist but I’m also a extreme extrovert where my wife is an extreme introvert. More like opposites attract LOL thank you for this video. Dr. Marks would you consider doing a video on intermittent explosive disorder IED ? My father has it and I would like to see your take on this particular subject IED !
    Thank you 🙏
    General repair

  9. Excellent video. Thank you Dr. Marks. This is why people should stay away from horoscopes and Tarot readings when it comes to relationships, or anything for that matter. And more and more I have come to understand that there are people who simply shouldn't be in any relationship, primarily because they don't seek professional help. Due to the divorce rate in this age. this topic should be explored more.

  10. So I attract immature narcissist because I was raised by them and I am trying to seek out validation? Wow deep. Thank you Dr. Can you do a video on what the difference is between bipolar and narcissistic personality disorder? Alot of people on YouTube are misinforming people on the bipolar illness. I appreciate all your work🤗

  11. I appreciate this video although the example of the guy not liking his successful wife because her success makes him feel inferior is not her problem but his sexist ego. Gross

  12. I gave up on interpersonal relationship. I'm mostly mentally healthy (I like to think so) but when I enter a relationship, I change for the worst. (bpd) now I just Netflix and hang out with my cat.

    Ms. Marks you described my mother.

  13. Whatever good I use to do with women I do the opposite…..I never buy dinner because I never ask women out anymore.I just wait until she calls or text me and then I still ignore this fruit cake. I feel so good getting this education on women and their weird-ass wiring..

  14. I use to be so frustrated by women treating me so badly, but the problem was that I brought flowers and treating women with respect, women don't want that. I know that this is a bad sad thing to say yes, but it's true. There is this woman that I'm seeing she asked me when will she see me again? You know what I did? Which I really didn't wont to do,I ignored her and now she's blowing up my phone. The more I ignore this professional woman the more she wants my company…….SAD but TRUE!

  15. I use to be a nice guy and that shit doesn't work. What I do now is never chase and give compliments and never call women, and wouldn't' you know it the dumb ass black professional women love it. I stop being nice. I'm not evil but I just act like I don't care. The dating game is just that, a dam freaking game! I'm never getting married.

  16. You attract what you feel comfortable with, coming from narcissistic up bringing I got into many of the same in relationships and marriages until I realized where i came from. If it feels like my childhood, its a big red flag.

  17. Tracey can you make video about restless leg syndrome? and how to cope restless leg syndrome caused by antidepressants. ?

  18. More videos about how to stop this kind of toxic relationships. How to heal the relationship with your parents that your subconscious manifest in your relationships with partners.
    Thanks!

  19. Unfortunately tharapist are not helpful at least here in California. I sure do wish more people like you would help.

  20. Wow!! I have been the one trying to Love and give my all to someone. I feel I needed to rescue! The problem is when one choose a Broken Bird! And gets upset when it can't Fly! Your videos are Always!!!! Enlightening

  21. Another excellent video. Dr. Marks, is it possible that we are not attracting the same person over and over, but merely experiencing different people with the same response with which our parents programmed us? Maybe our experiential response is the piece that is the repeating pattern. Thx!!

  22. Well, isn’t this just timely. GREAT PRACTICAL HELP
    I recently let someone back into my life who shouldn’t be here. Yesterday I completed a test having to this show someone the exit door of my life: that 🔥 door that only opens in an emergency and doesn’t allow entry, not even re-entry. I did some prayer, meditation, affirmations, breathing, and trusted my Highest Power Guide Inside – The Supreme God Force of this Universe that can be trusted carried me through the day prompted me with feelings and cues to let me know what I was to do in the moment. 😬 Nerves and all I trusted my guide and allowed myself to feel everything I was feeling, KNOWING the long term results would outweigh them.
    This like all experiences in life, served it’s purpose and I’m so thankful for the lesson. No matter how hard something is, completing it successfully is so gratifying and worth 🥳 🎉 🎈 🎊 celebration

  23. Thank you for this video Dr. Marks. My sister in law really needs this. Great job. I look forward to future videos.

  24. Again, such good analysis and advice! As a 71 year old woman, still active and attractive, I have called it “quits” with guys. I open myself up and get hammered every time. I am better off single. 🤦🏼‍♀️

  25. Hey Doctor, I have some kind of a related subject to ask about.
    As a child, I was the youngest among my sisters. They have always had more interesting stuff to do like boyfriends and adventures. At the time, I always wanted to fit in and to belong, but they always rejected me.
    As a teenager , I was extremely shy(I was the kind of person who was so quiet and anxious and feeling not taken seriously).
    My relationship with my sisters is perfect now and we are involved in each other's lives. I some how managed to have a great confidence in my self (may be because I was exellent at school and attractive). I have now no problem speaking with people and be kind of extravert (my family and friends find me so funny).

    The problem is, I still have the urge to fit in. I always expect people to reject me and reject my thoughts. I become anxious when someone askes me for edvice.
    Can you please explain why I still feel so, even when I am now an independent and confident grown up girl (by the way, I am 28 ).
    Thank you doctor! I loove your channel and videos . They helped me a lot ❤

  26. Doctor do you take at face value the recent research or mere claims that exposure to childhood trauma can alter the course of people’s DNA during growth, seemingly preparing the person for premature decay ? I am of the conviction that it is just as so that an individual’s emotional independence, their personal enthusiastic drive toward life as well takes up and shapes the body at the level of muscle density, appearance and so forth

  27. This sounds like being the identifiable patient in a dysfunctional family. Dr. Marks have you heard of that term before? And do you know of any books that deal with it.
    This is fascinating stuff DOC !

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